RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Francine and Vance Horne haven’t seen their son in decades.
Vance Michael Horne, Jr. was murdered in Henrico County in 1996. The 21-year-old college student was shot in the face after someone robbed his cousin.
“Although it happened 21 years ago, the pain still lingers,” said Francine Horne.
This week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week across the country.
On Monday, Gov. Ralph Northam honored crime victims and those who serve them in Virginia.
The event was put on by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) in partnership with the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and the Virginia Victim Assistance Network.
The Hornes shared their story at the event.
“It helps to heal me each time I talk about it but it also brings a benefit to somebody else,” said Francine Horne.
The designated week has been around since 1981. It was created to recognize the needs of crime victims and the work of advocates.
This year’s theme is “Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims.” It emphasizes the importance of broadening access to services and support.
There are more than 400 crime victim assistance projects in the commonwealth.
The Hornes said, while it isn’t always easy to open up, utilizing the local resources that are available can help when a family is hit with tragedy.
“From our personal experience, we know that they need a helping hand,” said Vance Horne.
The Hornes still meet with people who have helped them cope since their son’s murder, including attending an annual event around Christmas.
At Monday’s event, Northam signed a proclamation to formally recognize the week in the commonwealth.
“Crime doesn’t just affect the person who is victimized, but their entire community,” said Northam. “Our victim advocate organizations do essential work to provide support and services to everyone affected by crimes.”
Northam also pointed to legislation that passed through the General Assembly this year aimed at helping victims of crime.
House Bill 483 will make sure money owed to victims makes it to their wallets.
An investigation by WAVY sister station WRIC 8News revealed millions of dollars in restitution was collected from defendants — but never delivered to victims.
The bill creates two positions where employees will identify and locate victims for whom restitution owed.
Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran said it is important from crime victims’ voices to be heard — including in the state legislature.
“We are committed to providing a multidisciplinary response to best serve victims of crime by ensuring the diverse needs of communities throughout the commonwealth are addressed through partnership with local service providers, community leaders, law enforcement, and public safety officials,” said Moran. “Throughout my career I have witnessed the tremendous impact advocates have on the lives of victims and survivors and we thank them for their service.”
At the event, advocates Becky Sirles of the Virginia Victim Assistance Network and Kristi VanAudenhove of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance highlighted their organizations’ work and the importance of victims’ services.